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Behavioral Disorders and Excessive Sugar

Science shows a great risk for some.

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Girl sticking tongue and holding up cookies to show link between sugar and behavioral disorders

Here’s another concern related to eating too much added sugar: It may alter how some people behave. In a study in Evolution and Human Behavior, people with a genetic predisposition to behavioral disorders such as bipolar disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and aggressive behaviors were reported as having a greater risk of developing them if their diets were high in added sugars.

According to the researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, fructose’s ability to lower energy in cells may be linked to a foraging response similar to what occurs during starvation that could heighten risk-taking and aggressiveness.

In theory, the overactivation of the evolutionary foraging response such as rapid decision-making and aggressiveness that transpires from excess sugar intake may cause impulsive mental behaviors.

More research is needed before we can conclude that excessive intake of fructose present in sweetened foods has a contributory role in the pathogenesis of behavioral disorders including ADHD.

See also: Another Sugar Downer

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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